Good heirloom tomatoes come and go from our lives like a fleeting kiss. We wait all year long for August to finally taste true love, only to realize it's ephemeral. Breakups are hard, but saying goodbye to a tomato is harder. Enjoy it while the season lasts.
If you've felt this heartbreak year after year, you know the pain I'm talking about. Here are the 10 stages of falling in love with a tomato.
Stage 1: Disdain
You just got out of an ugly relationship with another tomato, and you can't even look at that watery, lifeless thing someone just put on your plate. Not even salt or lots of cheese would make this tomato palatable. You push it off to the side and move on with dinner. There's no way you're eating that thing – gross.
Stage 2: Apathy
Your friend throws a dinner party and invites you. You sit down to dinner and someone passes you the salad, which has some dinky, colorless cherry tomatoes thrown on top. Instead of freaking out, you grab the serving utensils and kinda nudge the tomatoes out of the way to get to the arugula. No big deal, those tomatoes don't upset you anymore.
Stage 3: Loneliness
Coming home from work, you decide to reheat the leftover pasta you made for yourself last night. You pour some store-bought tomato sauce over the pasta, and suddenly feel a twang of sadness. You briefly reminisce about what it's like to feel the embrace of a fresh tomato.
Stage 4: Hope
One day you're walking home from the gym and you stumble across this farmers market you've never seen before. You see some fresh strawberries and blueberries for the first time in months, and you get a little hope for the fresh things to come. I mean, you're not going to say no to tasting a tomato in a couple months.
Stage 5: A Crush
You're going out to brunch with some friends and you order a couple eggs over-easy with bacon and a side salad. You're drinking a cup of coffee and listening to your friend talk when out of the corner of your eye you see your order slide under your face, and the side salad is filled with bright-red, shiny cherry tomatoes. You quickly grab your fork and kinda brush over the tomatoes shyly. You nervously take a bite.
Could this be the start of something new?
Stage 6: A First Date
After a month or so of flirting with each other at the farmers market, you decide to ask the tomato out. And because it's early in the season, you go with a simple caprese salad, with heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, and some expensive mozzarella — plus lots of flaky salt and a little oil.
The first bite is exhilarating and makes you remember why you like living. You frantically wish you had bought more tomatoes at the farmers market, and storm back — tote bag in hand — ready to dive deep into this rekindled relationship.
Stage 7: True Love
And just like that, you're head over heels in love with a tomato. You're moving fast — you've already met the parents, you've been on your first trip, and you've looked at rings (casually, of course). Any dish that doesn't include fresh tomatoes can see itself out the door. It's August, baby.
Stage 8: Distance
It starts getting a little cold out and things start getting really busy at work. You find that your plate is full with more squash – lots of pumpkin – and you can't go to the farmers market without making a pit stop for apples. You visit the grocery store and can't find those gorgeous heirloom tomatoes that were there last week, and when you confront the cashier about the situation, he says he doesn't know when they'll be back.
Stage 9: Horrible Breakup
You come home from work with a bunch of tomatoes you were able to find at a different grocery store. Thank goodness, you think, as you're slicing them up for a quick tomato tart. You bite into one of the slices for a quick snack before dinner, and stop in your tracks. It tastes kinda lifeless and watery, and looks almost white on the outside. How could it happen? you think, and you toss it in the trash and you cry and cry and cry.
Stage 10: Deep Sorrow
You put some mozzarella and wilted basil in a box and drop it off at the grocery store. When the store manager asks why you're doing that, you wipe a tear away and say you don't need it anymore. Walking down the grocery aisle to pick up some root vegetables, you catch the eye of a small cherry tomato and feel your stomach sink.
Never again, you think. Never again.
Updated from post originally published August 2015.